Ryan Kattner (aka Honus Honus), is a musician-songwriter, film/theater score composer, screenwriter, mustachioed multi-hyphenate living in Los Angeles. Texas-born, he grew up in the Philippines, South Carolina, Germany, Illinois, Alabama and Missouri before finally settling in Philadelphia and pouring his scattered upbringing into his bands Man Man and Mister Heavenly. He’s releasing his first solo album in 2016. Michael J. Fox as Teen Wolf is his spirit animal. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (photo credit: Mike Gerry)
Greetings, fellow humans. Uncle Honus here to teach you the concert etiquette you never knew you never wanted — and will probably end up disregarding entirely. Today’s delightful topic: not hurting people.
As we all know — or should know, unless you are learning this for the first time through this column (extremely tragic if that’s the case) — part of the joy of concert-attending is experiencing the transformative powers of live music. It’s incredible when you can allow that unabashed joy to surge through the body, exorcising your daily demons and purging the senses of all unwanted inequities. Grinning blissfully works, too. Still, the last thing you want to be doing at a concert is picking your teeth up off the ground or suturing an eye shut with dental floss.
Rambling aside, here’s a list, in no particular order, of show etiquette “no no’s” that I’ve encountered during my more than forty-three years in the indie rock “biz”:
DON’T be a moshpit meathead
I’ve only seen a few fights break out during my years of performing (my band’s fan fans are most radical human beings), and in those cases it was generally because of two scenarios: 1) a couple of drunken/drugged-out concert-goers got moshed into and inebriated bravado took hold, or 2) someone pushing for a spot in the crowd was aggressively disrespectful/annoying/oblivious. Let’s tackle #1 first.
Last year, I was lucky enough to be my bud Norm’s plus-one to catch Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies at the Forum in Inglewood, California. The swirling pits on the floor were terrifyingly awesome to observe. Did we participate? Absolutely not. Did we see a ton of vicious beat-downs, all-out brawls, murders, stabbings and body parts carried out on stretchers and dumped into mass, burning graves? Nope. We just saw a lot of badass, scary-looking Angelino tough dudes having a ball slamming the shit out of each other — with mutual respect.
Full disclosure here: pits can be fucking fun. If people want to be in one. If you choose to start one/join one, just elbow/pogo/slamdance your fellow pit partiers and be mindful of the poor people adjacent to the hell mouth. And if no one will start a pit with you, start one in your mind and be the leader of the mind pit. See? Isn’t that glorious?
I always have such profound respect for fellow concertgoers who peacefully mediate the situation. One time I was playing a show in Baton Rouge and a fight nearly broke out between a girl on a bad ecstasy trip and some hapless guy/concertgoer. Seemingly out of nowhere — and I’m watching this as I’m playing and singing on stage — a 6’5″ dude steps seamlessly between them and effectively defuses the situation. Massive guy, immovable boulder, didn’t even acknowledge them or stop watching the show. It was a brilliant move from a real hero. Well played, sir.
DON’T try to push through a fellow human’s body
As for fight scenario #2? We all want to be as close to the stage as possible when our favorite band is rocking out, but if you choose to push your way to the front, do so intelligently.
When you’re trying to furiously snake your way closer to the stage, usually a gentle tap on the shoulder and/or a mouthed “excuse me” defuses potential violent scenarios — although sometimes not even the most genuine niceties can overcome inebriation and the brutish logic of residual Neanderthal DNA. Proceed with caution. It can also be really annoying when you have someone breathing down the back of your neck (or sexy as hell!) just waiting for you to shift your feet a slight inch so they can move their foot into that slight inch. I’ve seen fights break out over that slight inch. So maybe back up a little.
It’s important to remember, too, that if the tide of bodies seems impenetrable without adequate pushing, shoving and squeezing through another’s physical form, it IS impenetrable. Helpful tip! The capacity of human bladders versus the intake of copious amounts of barley fluid tends to thin the herd eventually. Give it a sec.
DON’T stage-dive like an amateur
If you’re a 300-pound dude jumping onto a group of tiny people who collectively still can’t support the cratering impact, plot it out for a second. Don’t ruin everyone’s night because your knee or foot goes through someone’s mandible. The same goes for little spider monkey bodies. Just because you’re tiny — as light as an armful of kittens — and can fly really, really far doesn’t mean that anyone wants or has an inherent responsibility to catch you when you land. Brace for the floor to embrace you. I’ve seen many a stage dive fail, and while that’s always good for an unexpected wince/laugh, it can also be a downright horror show — especially if there’s broken glass or a Burmese tiger pit strewn about the dance floor.
And, last and MOST IMPORTANT: be careful how you enter and exit. Please try your damnedest not to knock into or bump any of the musicians or their gear. Sure, sometimes accidents happen in the heat of the moment and that’s understandable. Just know that sometimes a bass guitarist might “accidentally” slam his bass guitar directly into your drunken, sloppy face in retaliation. Kudos to you-know-who, Mr. Bassist of Unnamed, Colorful L.A. Band. Classic move.